Rifle QB Stutsman feels up to new challenges | PostIndependent.com

Rifle QB Stutsman feels up to new challenges

Jon Mitchell
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
Layton Stutsman throws the ball along the sideline during the Rifle High School football team's midnight practice at Bears Stadium on Aug. 11. Rifle will open the season on Aug. 22 at home against Moffat County.
Christopher Mullen / Citizen Telegram |

Nobody’s perfect, and Layton Stutsman has learned that. In a way, he’s still learning it.

“When he first started playing quarterback for us, he’d beat himself up any time something didn’t go particularly well or any time we didn’t do something right,” Rifle High football coach Damon Wells said about the Bears’ senior quarterback. “He doesn’t do that as much anymore.”

Granted, Stutsman readily admits that he’s still learning the position, where he started last season after a year as one of the Bears’ two starting cornerbacks on defense. He also admits that some of the offseason time in the weight room, along with the 7-on-7 camps he took part in with the team, has helped him develop substantially as a QB.

He’ll have a chance to show off what he learned over the summer at 7 p.m. on Aug. 22 when the Bears open their season against Moffat County at Bears Stadium.

“We’re pretty excited right now,” Stutsman said about Friday’s game. “We spent the whole offseason preparing for this. Ever since our loss to Coronado, we’ve been preparing for this season.”

Stutsman was Rifle’s quarterback on a Bears team that, in 2013, finished 8-3 and shared the Class 3A Western Slope League championship with Palisade. The Bears, however, lost in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs to eventual 3A state champion Coronado in Colorado Springs. He took snaps on a team that produced an average of 346.1 rushing yards per game on offense and outscored its opponents by an average of more than four touchdowns per game.

Rifle’s version of the Wing-T offense relies on its quarterback to read the opposing defense at the line of scrimmage and, if necessary, make adjustments based on the defensive fronts opposing teams are showing. Stutsman showed the ability to read those defenses, and his drive to succeed filtered down to his teammates to enhance their performances.

“He puts a lot of pressure on himself to be good,” Wells said. “He still has very high standards for himself. But I think that he understand now that if we screw up, one play isn’t going to define your entire season.”

The lefthanded Stutsman took steps in the offseason to improve. Wells said he made big strides during the 7-on-7 camps Rifle went to in the summer, which focus exclusively on passing. Those, Stutsman said, gave him a better understanding of how coverages work and what kind of things to look for when he’s passing the ball.

“We are primarily a running team, and that’s fine,” Stutsman said. “Whatever makes us successful is what we’re all for, and if that means passing the ball, that’s great.

“I’m confident that we can succeed passing. Not only have I gotten better, but my receivers and I have all clicked over the summer and gotten better.”

Stutsman finished the season 41-of-93 passing for 715 yards and six touchdowns and five interceptions last season.

Rifle’s offense is looking to get better, also. The Bears have implemented a hurry up offense that picks up the pace from their huddle-up looks of past seasons, putting pressure on opposing defenses to pick up the pace right with them. For Stutsman, that means he’ll have to potentially make even more decisions on the fly for the Bears’ offense to be successful.

Stutsman feels ready for that challenge.

“It’s not a big deal for us,” Stutsman said. “I think it’s going to be a big adjustment for the defense because it’s going to put a lot of pressure on them. I think in the long run, it’s really going to be beneficial to us.”

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